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The Fan-Maker's Inquisition: A Novel of the Marquis de Sade

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  220 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
A young fan-maker, who is known throughout France for her sensual, sexually graphic creations, finds herself on trail for her collaboration with the infamous Marquis de Sade. Heads will roll unless the independent fan-maker, erotically cast in the shadow of de Sade, can justify her art and friendships to a court known for its rigid and prudish proprieties.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 31st 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published 1999)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”In this state of rootless imagining, my mind seizes upon the most unexpected associations. Drops of fat suspended in my soup become the ocular devices of archons; a baneful spider stalking fleas exemplifies the pubic triangles of embalmed houris; a copple-crown turd warns of the Revolution’s collapse and the dawning of lethal systems of industry. Further to conjure anxiety I pretend that the lines of my palms are the river systems of dead planets; when that proves tedious, I examine the frayed ...more
If you are a fan of the Marquis de Sade, this book may well be a treasure for your reading pleasure. I really enjoyed the historical fiction aspect of this story. Ms.Ducornet definitely did her research here.

The story is good and speaks of the times.
A beautiful fan maker, Gabrielle, has befriended Sade. She begins to sporadically visit him during a portion of his incarceration. Over time, in order to relieve Sade's boredom, together they endeavor to write a book chronicling Bishop Landa's time
For the past few weeks the subject of responsible use of freedom of expression and speech has dominated our public discourse. And this is not in the context of Charlie Hebdo. A group of Indian stand up comics had collaborated on a live 'roast' of two Bollywood actors (the very first of its kind in India) and posted the video on youtube - a performance peppered with sexual innuendos and a mind-boggling amount of profanity. The video went viral within minutes, inspired twitter hashtags, gave netiz ...more
Lynne King
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every review I’ve seen seems to mention the first chapter of this extremely unusual book and I’m certainly not going to disappoint the reader in that respect:

“A fan is like the thighs of a woman: It opens and closes. A good fan opens with a flick of the wrist. It produces its own weather – a breeze not so strong as to muss the hair.”

Rikki Ducornet’s resonant writing compels one to continually “read me, read me, read me”, combined with the sensual word flow throughout this book by exploring all p
Ian "Marvin" Zabala-Graye
Prudish Inquisition Becomes Immersive Exquisition

Rikki Ducornet opens this novella with testimony by Sade’s fan-maker, Gabrielle: "A fan is like the thighs of a woman. It opens and closes."

But it's also like a book or a mind. They too can be opened or closed. And the life of Sade was very much about one open mind opposed to many closed ones. This book is designed to open (if not blow) our minds and free our imaginations. Ducornet quotes Mallarme: "There is no explosion except a book."

Sade’s ren
MJ Nicholls
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: distaff, novels, merkins
Readers of a Ducornet novel can expect many wondrous and terrific things: an abundance of sensual, grotesque, ravenous descriptions and lists, a cast-list of eccentrics, madmen, mischief-makers and seducers, a whirligig of tales-within-tales-within-frame-tales, all manner of delightfully erudite literary and philosophical arcana, and fantastical tangents that have the magical translucence of dreams and nightmares. All these elements are more or less present in The Fan-Maker’s Inquisition, as the ...more
'Luckless is that country in which the symbols of procreation are held in horror!' [de Bergerac] wrote, 'while the agents of destruction are revered!'
I've said it in other reviews, and I'll say it again: erotica deserves to be treated seriously as a legitimate genre of literature, for the amelioration of both written word and resulting reality. Sade died two hundred years ago, and while I don't know about the rest of the world, I have four words for the gun-happy, sex-patriarchal US: grow
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"We admire Nature's variety and accept the flowers in their multiplicity of colors; indeed, if all flowers were white, we'd love them less. The world is richer for Nature's permutations, so why, tell me, do we not accept diversity within our own species?"

RD: The first time the fan-maker reads Sade, she is horrified and turns from him in disgust. But then she realizes that his vision of hell is a vision of the dangers that face us all. She decides that in order to survive, one must, she must "fac
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jonfaith by: Samadrita
Here is what I wonder on my worst days: If the guillotine exemplifies Nature--perpetual, blind, deadly, inescapable-- and if Man is Her servant, and the Revolution too, then there is no hope. Then would I, and gladly, see the universe perish.

My humble gratitude extends to Samadrita. This was such a welcome detour. The Fan-Maker's Inquisition wrestles with moral hypocrisy. How sound that is in these uneven times. My best friend was recently interviewed on Al-Jazeera about the Charlie Hebdo traged
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Nov 19, 2013 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pantagruel
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Gargantua
Shelves: rikki-s-number
“Lady Rabelais” I once heard reported that it was said by someone who might know. It wasn’t Gazelle ; but, like how! it is most clearly, most certainly found in The Fan-Maker’s Inquisition. And let me say it like this, it would almost seem as though Ducornet is plagiarizing the old man ; which would be the highest compliment. In addition to a strong presence of the satirical Swift and the encyclopedia-ist Diderot, we find in the second portion of our diptych, the titular Marquis de Sade, who is, ...more
Stephen P
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All that love words and the meaning lying beneath.
Recommended to Stephen by: Scribble Orca
De Sade is locked away in a tower, part of a prison, and has been so for many years, will remain so. It seems that it is not Durconet creating him but he informing her and her writing, as he is corresponding with Gabrielle. She is a fan maker. Her’s is an exotic craft. Simply, she is herself, authentic and real. She remains so before the Committee where she is being tried for her correspondence with the imprisoned de Sade. This is an exchange which evolves into something affectionate, tender. Th ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent - the wonderful reviews already here will tell you all you need to know. Suffice it to say, they are correct and this is a fantastic read.

For those of you who have, or are about to, read it - may I also suggest Angela Carter's Sadeian Women book as a companion piece (but a more academic one).
Scribble Orca
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: if you don't want to have read Sade, as an added bonus
Recommended to Scribble by: Rikki Ducornet

It's worth ten stars. Don't wait around for my eventual review - ifwhenever. Just read it. I guarantee you it's the most fun you'll have on a Sadeday.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacia by: MJ Nicholls
Shelves: 2013, favorites, europe
A Goodreads friend highly recommended Rikki Ducornet’s novel, The Fan-Maker’s Inquisition. Having never previously read Ducornet’s works, I find that she writes very luscious, provocative prose, which seems especially fitting as the subtitle of the book is A Novel of the Marquis de Sade. Partly, it’s a historical fiction novel based around a fan-maker (of scandalous fans, writings, friendships, & liasions) being tried during the Reign of Terror while also weaving a tale of an earlier reign o ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We admire nature's variety and accept the flowers in their multiplicity of colors; indeed, if all flowers were white, we'd love them less. The world is richer for Nature's permutations, so why, tell me, do we not accept diversity within our own species?"

I filled pages in my notebook with quotes from this book, a novel of the Marquis de Sade. The first part takes place in the format of, yes, an inquisition of a fan-maker, confidant, and writing partner of Sade's, as well as excerpts from the boo
Anthony Vacca
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anthony by: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
From Anthony Vacca's award-winning review for The Stain:

"...a jaw-dropping foray into The Reign of Terror - those ten months of mass executions sandwiched within the ten years of the French Revolution - that told the heartbreaking story of a genuine and platonic friendship between the Marquis De Sade and a female fan-maker who specializes in erotic designs...dazzle[s] with pitch perfect sentences; dazzling narrative tricks; a panache for slithering between the erotic and the perverse; a vaudevil
Annia Ciezadlo
Dec 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Classic Ducornet: Sex, religion, history, tenderness and violence. And delicate pornographic fans—the kind you will need to fan your blushing face while reading this savagely beautiful tale of love and lust and intolerance.
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A veritable orgasm of sensuous poetic prose, filthy and erudite, a most potent and heady of combinations. I am still shivering.
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
The main character in this book is an erotic fan maker, friend of the Marquis de Sade. She is accused of a crime and put on trail during the French Revolution. The trail and the Marquis memories of her tell her story.

Gazelle, by the same author, is vivid in its sensual imagery and reading it made me want to find things to smell and taste. The imagery in this book is more violent and sexual. It contains many observations on people, writing, and the role of books. One of my favorites is found on
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: darling-rikki
Ducornet's masterpiece (maybe) that has largely been erased from my memory banks by repeated bashing to the skull with a bowling pin administered by wife. All deserved.

May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I wonder what my glee at the high quota of the word "buggered" per page means about my character.
Mar 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Tried really hard to get through this, but got really impatient after a few chapters. The prose was pretty but served no real purpose, except to aggravate the reader.
May 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
Unreadable. If you enjoy a simile, followed by a metaphor, topped with a run-on sentence then read this book. Otherwise, read anything else. I gave up after 60 pages of torture.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it
it was imaginative and structurally interesting, but left me feeling unsatisfied
Aug 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Lush prose, evocative imagery and provocative insets of the sensual promised a new perspective on de Sade, or at least some insights in a perspective not yet familiar. The narration is presented using letters and journals from de Sade and transcripts from the Fan Maker’s trial, with insets of hedonistic and sensual pleasures, mostly found in food and sex. Unfortunately, while all of the moments in and of themselves are beautifully presented, and the writing manages to bring the feel and flavor o ...more
Jonathan Lyons
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tom Buske
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting but strange book, it is told from the point of view of a fan maker who is an associate of the infamous Marquis De Sade. Other topics dealt with are the French Revolution and the Inquisition in the New World, which two themes are analogized. The author, by the way is the Rikki of "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" by Steely Dan. It seems that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were at Bard College in Annandale, NY, along with Chevy Chase, in the late 60s at the same time as Ducornet and kn ...more
Max Nemtsov
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
русский перевод (удивительное дело) анны комаринец ( потерял в имени автора одну к, значимую половину названия и кое-что от шарма оригинала. зато обавелся идиотской аннотацией и несет в себе удачные находки. жалко, что никому не пришло в голову отредактировать перевод как положено.
Jason Martin
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jason by: Kim
Ducornet is a fantastic writer to say the least and I am really enjoying this book. She weaves her narrative in and out of poetry in a most delicious fashion. The world which surrounds the Marquis de Sade is brought to life in a way that just right for me.

If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it!

Stylistically hard to get used to, but the actual story is compelling.

A female fan-maker in Revolutionary France befriends the ever-licentious Marquis de Sade, and makes fans with "provocative scenes" depicted on them. The whole story is told in an interrogation setting, when the fan-maker is on the stand in court testifying about her relationship with the Marquis.
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Rikki Ducornet (born Erica DeGre, April 19, 1943 in Canton, New York) is an American postmodernist, writer, poet, and artist.

Ducornet's father was a professor of sociology, and her mother hosted community-interest programs on radio and television. Ducornet grew up on the campus of Bard College in New York, earning a B.A. in Fine Arts from the same institution in 1964. While at Bard she met Robert
More about Rikki Ducornet

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“What are books but tangible dreams? What is reading if it is not dreaming? The best books cause us to dream; the rest are not worth reading.” 36 likes
“A book is a private thing, citizen; it belongs to the one who writes it and to the one who reads it. Like the mind itself, a book is a private space. Within that space, anything is possible. The greatest evil and the greatest good.” 14 likes
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